Each day is a gift filled with 86,400 seconds. As 2017 closes, this is an excellent time to pause and reflect upon the positive things in your life. It's important to be thankful for your financial blessings, but the end of the year is also an opportunity to think beyond them.
Whatever challenge you are facing, embodying a sense of gratitude can go a long way. Set yourself up for success in the new year with a positive attitude. Gratitude is great for several reasons, as outlined in Erin Wildermuth’s article. Are negative emotions ruling your holiday season? Perhaps you can give thanks for these five items: (For more from this author, see: Don’t Get Trapped in Financial Survival Mode.)
Families come in different forms. Whether you are a parent, child, spouse, sibling (or all of them), you’re a member of a broader family. Use this time to mend broken relationships. If you and a family member come from disparate sides of a political or religious spectrum, consider these conversation starters as you gather around the dining room table this holiday season.
Dan Buettner’s book Blue Zones of Happiness indicates that social connections are a great predictor of happiness. Even introverts find time with close friends to be as valuable as time alone. Buettner studied Blue Zone Communities that foster additional social interactions among neighbors by making grocery stores, schools and other amenities more convenient. He advises spending six to seven hours daily in social interactions. That’s a tall order for many adults, but friendships with coworkers count in the total as well.
3. Financial Foundation
The statistics from CreditDonkey.com are alarming. If you have any cash in a savings account, you’re ahead of 26% of American adults. In fact, only 17% of Americans reported having three to five months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund. The personal U.S. savings rate in 2014 fell to 4.4%, down 6% from 2012 figures. Furthermore, 36% of U.S. adults have not yet started saving for retirement.
Even if you haven’t fully achieved 2017 goals, I hope these statistics help you feel a little better. If not, take some time to craft new financial goals for 2018.
4. Bare Necessities
Food, water, shelter and clothing represent basic needs. Developed countries often take these items for granted, but much of the developing world is left in the dust. You may not live in your dream home, you might feel behind in retirement savings or your investment portfolio could be underperforming. Just remember: these are first world problems.
Generosity breeds happiness. If you’re charitably inclined, research charities that benefit people living below the poverty line in the U.S. or those overseas who still yearn for all basic needs. Help One Now strives to end extreme poverty, care for orphans, rescue slaves and see communities transformed. These non-profit organizations make clean water a global reality.
Buettner further contends in his book that happiness is comprised of three main components: pride, purpose and pleasure. Purpose means living out your values and passions in the service of a higher calling. To clarify your purpose, Richard Leider recommends a simple formula:
Gifts + Passion + Values = Calling
Gifts are what you can offer the world, while passion is what really excites you. Values are the traits you find most important, like honesty or dependability. Knowing your life’s purpose may enable you to define and surpass financial goals.
Who or what are you most thankful for this holiday season? (For more from this author, see: 5 Benefits of Creating a Financial Plan.)